CS:GO fans from around the world filled the Sportpaleis Antwerpen on Friday for the PGL Antwerp Major’s second two quarterfinals. With ENCE and Copenhagen Flames playing in the first series of the day, people expected world-class Counter-Strike, and they got what they wanted.
In Vertigo, the fifth round of the opening map, ENCE were forced into an eco round, with only dycha saving an M4A1-S from the previous round. With one weapon on board, Snappi’s men were expected to lose. Dycha, however, eliminated one enemy through a smoke on A ramp. A few seconds later, he had already rotated to B, where he picked off Zyphon and nicodoz. The last player standing for Copenhagen Flames, HooXi, took care of ENCE’s hades, but dycha was there to trade and finish the round.
Despite being behind in inventory, ENCE played like they had nothing to lose. They advanced with confidence, aggressively taking crucial positions like in the fifth round on Vertigo. Their unmatched strategies and offensive approach helped them to a convincing win over Copenhagen Flames, simultaneously securing a spot in the semifinals. These are the first Major playoffs for ENCE’s roster, which was revamped at the start of last year and added its last piece of the puzzle, Maden, this January.
ENCE have overcome their first challenge in the Major playoffs, but there’s no place for complacency. The defending champions, Natus Vincere, await them in the semifinals. For such a young squad playing in front of a live audience for the first time, though, making the semifinals of a Major is an admirable achievement. Even dycha was stunned by their tremendous form so far. “We didn’t expect that it would go that way,” he told Dot Esports. “We’re merely three months with Maden in the roster and we’re having such results, it’s amazing.”
In a recent interview with Dot Esports, ENCE’s hades said if the team maintains that rate of growth, trophies should be a matter of time. Dycha agrees, underlining the importance of having venues filled with fans—who, in his eyes, are one of the primary reasons behind ENCE’s confident showing in the playoffs so far.
“We’re definitely fueled by the crowd,” dycha said. “It helps us tremendously and it’s a big advantage for us. Playing here is going to grant us a lot of experience. If we were able to come back against Astralis [in the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2022 Europe final], who are a strong enemy, then we’re ready to win trophies.”
To take the biggest prize at the Major, ENCE’s individuals need to be on point, and so far, they are. At the time of writing, dycha and his teammate, Spinx, are two out of the three best players of the event, with 1.33 and 1.24 ratings, according to HLTV. On their way to the trophy, however, are even more dangerous enemies than Copenhagen Flames.
At the PGL Antwerp Major, FaZe Clan and NAVI are the favorites to win the competition. Dycha echoes this opinion, claiming the two teams are simply “on a different level.” In his eyes, there are ENCE, Heroic, and Team Spirit below them in terms of skill. Games between the latter group would always come down to whichever team makes fewer mistakes, dycha says. To ensure dycha and his teammates make it through to the final, they will need to bring their A-game, since they’re facing NAVI.
With stakes higher than ever, dycha is looking forward to the series and already has a plan in mind. “We’re going to fix some mistakes on Nuke and will play as we did today, with no fear and pushing forward.”
ENCE will play in the second PGL Antwerp Major semifinal at 1 pm CT on Saturday.